Koreans Hear Untold Stories of Forgotten Migrants, Refugees
Seoul – IOM in the Republic of Korea (ROK) has hosted a second public event to highlight the plight of migrants and refugees forced to leave their homes by conflicts in remote corners of the world rarely covered by international media.
Moving Stories: Untold Journeys of People on the Move, an IOM ROK initiative designed to raise Korean public awareness of forced migration, presented IOM’s work in Bangladesh, South Sudan and Afghanistan. It also highlighted ROK government humanitarian aid. Hosted at the KT Olleh Square auditorium in Seoul on Friday evening (24/11), it attracted an audience of over 200 mostly young people.
“The stories of displaced people in protracted crises like South Sudan and Afghanistan often go unheard, because they are so difficult (for media) to access,” said Miah Park, IOM ROK Head of Office. “The current Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh may also disappear from the headlines. But it is important that we do not forget their stories.”
Peppi Kivinimei-Siddiq, IOM project manager described life in the vast, squalid Rohingya refugee settlements of Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh, where IOM is working to help over 800,000 people who fled Myanmar to escape what has been described by the UN as “ethnic cleansing.”
Tya Maskun, IOM’s Head of Operations in South Sudan, told the audience about internally displaced South Sudanese sheltering in the UN’s Wau “Protection of Civilians” site, as warring factions make it impossible for them to live outside in the community.
Laurence Hart, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Afghanistan, described IOM’s work at the country’s borders with Pakistan and Iran, where in 2016 alone, over a million Afghans returned home, often destitute and in desperate need of help to support their reintegration.
“By telling the stories of these migrants, I hope this event inspired everyone here to follow these issues more closely. We were thrilled by the enthusiasm of the audience and hope that this interest will be reflected in the broader Korean public,” said Hart.
IOM ROK hosted its first Moving Stories event in June 2017. It featured IOM media and communications experts who shared images and stories of forced migration around the world.